Researchers from China and UK have discovered a method to reduce arsenic levels in rice. Inorganic arsenic is a carcinogenic. Ingesting arsenic especially by consuming rice presents a significant risk to human health. The scientists used genome-wide association mapping and identified High Arsenic Content 1 (HAC1) as the gene responsible for the reduction of arsenate to arsenite. Plants that lack this gene fail to reduce the arsenate resulting in increased arsenic in the shoots. The high levels of arsenic in the shoots leads to arsenic toxicity in food crops. They also showed that HAC1 is used by the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana to control arsenic accumulation. Deletion of this gene led to a 300-fold increase in arsenic accumulation in the plants studied. This study provides new insights into development of low-arsenic crops for consumption.
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